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INTERVIEW: Be The Bear

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

Ask me in six months! I’ve been blinkered like a race horse for a long time, working hard with music. Although, I’ve promised myself to make time to enjoy the Swedish summer and not just work 24/7 which I did last year. I’ve been swimming in the lakes and hiking these last few weeks. Sometimes you are so focused on the business side of the music that you forget to invest time in inspiration. If I don’t have contact with nature, I don’t function. It’s pretty pagan I suppose, but I think it’s basic and the world would be a better place if we all spent more time in nature.

For those who aren’t familiar with you or your sound yet, how would you describe it? 

I would say I write alternative pop with a story. I like playing around with different genres and doing my own thing. I also really enjoy collaborate with people I admire. That is one of the reasons I do music, to play with quirky people and create something that I want to listen to myself. I want to write the kind of music that soundtracks people’s lives, that gets under the skin. Meaning is essential, otherwise what’s the point?

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Erupt”? 

“Erupt” is the first song I’ve written where I felt like I was home, that I’d found the sound I wanted. I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It was also a step up for me with production, where I could achieve the soundscape in my head. We recorded with a live 60-piece string orchestra, which was just a dream come true and to be honest, as a musician things like that are just life hanging events. As for the song itself, I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have it out in the world watching it do its own thing and find friends. I love reading people’s online comments to the song. When you get to this level in your career though, it’s also hard work, we did four versions in total, including a slow acoustic version in a higher key, an orchestral version with just the strings and vocals, and a really cool remix by Pablo Nouvelle. I felt the strings deserved to take front stage, and I love it when artists release acoustic versions of their albums. It just gives the music another dimension. Tom Odell did an awesome album with that approach, I’ve listened as much to the acoustic live version as the produced one.

How did the single name come about? 

I wasn’t sure what to call it, but my friends would refer to it as “Erupt”, probably because I sing it with emphasis in the song, so in the end it seemed natural, and because it’s simple it can mean a lot of things. I had this vision of a person erupting, I was thinking about those best moments in life, and how that’s when we’re really honest.

Did any event/s in particular inspire you to write the material? 

I was under a lot of pressure. Basically. A bit like a volcano!

How was the recording and writing process? 

Hard. I love writing songs – some parts are easy and come to you with no effort, like when I get ideas for melodies, they just come out of nowhere and it’s an endless source. But some parts can take time, they can be like an emotional battle with all your bad sides. Especially when you spend a lot of the time working on your own, like I do. Whenever I get someone in the studio I want to show them everything I’m working on, bounce off ideas and hear their thoughts. Hearing a 60-piece string orchestra play my song was my favourite part. The whole team had goose bumps and I was jumping up and down. It was magic.

How different is this new single from your previous material? 

It’s complicated. For me it’s part of the whole. Some people on the business side feel it’s a break from my earlier dancey sound, but my fans just seem to like everything I do. Which is fantastic when you are working with hybrid genres. It’s been several years since Bump and Bad Things. It’s very rare that you sit down and plan a song on paper like an architect, you only have so much control over where the music comes from and where it takes you. In the future, the previous songs might be the cocoon for the moth, when I look back.

How does your sound come together live? 2-piece or 3-piece? 

I’m trying to be flexible with that, adapt to different venues. Most of the time there will be at least three of us on stage, but if we need to we can manage with two. If it’s a bigger venue we might be five on stage with a mixed acoustic and electronic setup. With the different genres that I have in my material, a setlist can be tailored to the requirements of the performance. So expect to see a lot of variety.

Tell me about your recent collaboration with Pablo Nouvelle – how did this come about? 

I decided on it and made it happen. 🙂

I had a strong feeling he would be the right person for the job and we were both over the moon about how it turned out. He says it’s his favourite remix so far, which means a lot to me. I love the way he gave the song a completely new skin, and you know, it’s not the easiest song to remix. He took it to new dark depths, and brought out a different side to the song completely. I think it’s stunning.

Why should people pay attention to you? What’s special about you? 

To be frank, I do music for me. That people adopt my songs and share what it means to them is extremely encouraging though. I wouldn’t say I’m special, but I’ve always been a lone wolf and I do everything myself, or I lead a small team.

What else is happening next in Be The Bear’s world? 

A lot of different things on different levels.  I’m planning for all kinds of contingencies, because I have learnt that you never know what is going to come to fruition unless you open the door for that possibility. There are lots of exciting potential futures on the table right now. More recording, a broader landscape of sounds and vibes, and there’s the call of the road. I’m really drawn to playing an intense series of gigs. It is such a thrill being eye to eye with people, making a connecting with a big group of people, all at once. I am also working with Robin Kempe-Bergman on a series of music videos, which is a huge project. I love working with him, he’s a genius. So, the horizon is full of strange colours.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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